Never say never on running for office back home
RED OAK – Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin, a native of what is now Oak Leaf, said “never say never” when asked about eventually moving back to Ellis County and running for office.
Geeslin, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry over the 1,600-employee state agency in 2003, said his current duties and the upcoming legislative session were priorities and offered little chance at thinking about future plans.
“But never say never,” said Geeslin, who got his start in politics by working as a volunteer intern for Congressman Joe Barton, R-Ennis.
Geeslin said he works long hours, usually on weekends, but has “the best staff [ever]. They’d actually appreciate you calling them my ‘cabinet,’” he said, referring to a description of his 17-member executive staff.
A Red Oak High School graduate, Geeslin’s first and – so far – only run for office was for student council president, a contest he won.
Several Republicans in Ellis County have openly and privately wished for Geeslin to move back home to one day run for countywide office or even Oak Leaf mayor.
The father of three said he enjoys walking his children to school before then heading to his downtown Austin office.
Wife Danica and Geeslin were married in 1993 while she was in law school at the University of Texas and he was attending Texas A&M University, where he obtained a degree in communications.
Geeslin moved from Barton’s campaign office to work in his district office in Ennis. Another Red Oak High School graduate who went on to become famous in the world of Texas Republican politics, Wayne Hamilton, shared a desk with Geeslin.
“He [Barton] was so conservative that we had to share a table instead of [working at] separate ones,” he said.
Hamilton, who grew up in Ovilla, became the executive director of the Republican Party of Texas and is currently a political consultant, having directed, managed and helped Perry’s campaign, among others.
Geeslin said the Red Oak area was provided his “best” childhood memories. His family moved to unincorporated Ellis County in 1975. Residents in 1983 then voted to incorporate the town of Oak Leaf.
“Everybody comes from a base,” Geeslin said, acknowledging his high school nickname of “Goose” and confirming rumors that his father had “toughened” him up by throwing soccer balls at his chest during soccer practice.
That base also produced Ovilla native Bryan Preston, who now produces for the nationally syndicated Laura Engraham talk show, and publishes HotAir.com, a national conservative blog, with conservative superstar author Michelle Malkin.
After the Barton employment, Geeslin went to work for state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, as her legislative aide. She’s now rumored to be in the hunt for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s eventual open seat in the U.S. Senate.
After working with Shapiro, Geeslin began work with a West Texas state senator and eventually was hired as a policy analyst and advisor to Perry in the lieutenant governor’s office.
Geeslin followed Perry upon the governor’s appointment to replace then-Gov. George W. Bush’s move to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
After working as a deputy in the insurance agency from 2000 to 2003, Geeslin was nominated by the 31-member state senate to the top TDI post.
Geeslin said he has “absolutely the best office” to work with, who manage a $100 million annual budget with various field offices and oversee a market that is bolstered by auto and home insurance companies.
“If there’s not a meeting, there’s a phone call,” Geeslin said of his daily duties.
With the upcoming session approaching, Geeslin said he could not comment on whether the senate would confirm him for another two years, but he said 80 percent to 90 percent of his job duties during the session are done at the capitol, meeting with lawmakers and testifying before subcommittees.